The leader of the Navajo Nation said Tuesday that President Donald Trump used an ethnic slur when he called Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” during a White House event honoring Native American veterans.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye told CNN that the president’s injection of a political attack during a ceremony honoring Navajo code talkers was “uncalled for.”
“This was a day to honor them, and to insert something like that — the word ‘Pocahontas’ as a jab to a senator — you know, that belongs on the campaign trail,” Begaye said. “That doesn’t belong in the room when our war heroes are being honored.”
Trump, standing in front of a painting of President Andrew Jackson, who signed the Indian Removal Act, thanked the code talkers on Monday for their contributions to World War II and acknowledged that Native Americans “were here long before any of us were here — although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
Warren (D-Mass.), who claims to have Native American heritage, called it “deeply unfortunate” that Trump couldn’t refrain from using “a racial slur” during the ceremony. The White House, however, disputed that characterization, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters the notion that Trump used a racial slur is “ridiculous.”
But Begaye disagreed. “I feel that the way it was used, yes, it was” a racial slur, he told CNN. “Pocahontas is a real person. It’s not a caricature. It’s not something that’s just made up. This is a person, a young lady and Native American woman, that played a critical role in the life of this nation. And to use that person in that way is unnecessary and being culturally insensitive.”
This article was published on Politico.com